Councillors have agreed to formally sever an old town twinning arrangement with Gatchina in Russia as a sign of opposition to the invasion of Ukraine.
The bond was was established in the 1980s by Monklands District Council and inherited by North Lanarkshire Council during local government reforms in 1995, since which time no official town twinning events have taken place.
While chairing a policy and strategy committee meeting, council leader Jim Logue said the arrangement had been created in the 1980s to highlight the Leningrad Album, which had been exchanged between Airdrie and Gatchina during the siege of Leningrad during the Second World War.
He said: “In light of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the daily harrowing scenes emerging I am moving that this linkage be immediately disestablished and that we advise the mayor of Gatchina as to the reasons for this.
“(We should) also write to the Ukrainian consul-general in Scotland advising him of this and offering him and the residents of Ukraine, ironically, what the original authors of the Leningrad Album offered those under siege – expressions of hope support, solidarity and admiration.”
In a show of cross party support, this was seconded by opposition leader Jordan Linden, who commented: “Today as we speak the horror in Ukraine intensifies.
“We continue to witness an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and a situation which many of us would have believed unthinkable – active conflict in Europe.
“Of course, our thoughts, as with any conflict, are with the people of Ukraine, civilians who should be able to enjoy their daily lives peacefully but who we know are not able to do that as a result of this invasion.
“It is truly horrific to see the scenes of terrified people fleeing their homes and their country, All of us here extend our thoughts with them in these darkest of times and I know that beyond our thoughts we are also extending our practical support, aid and refuge to them also.”
Councillor Linden also highlighted the efforts of North Lanarkshire residents to donate aid to Ukraine, adding that on a recent visit to M&D’s theme park he had seen just how much had been collected; a sight he described as “both saddening and inspiring”.
Councillor Linden said he had also met a woman who had fled Kyiv with her daughter, but had been forced to leave her mother and brother behind.
He also stressed that this action was not aimed at ordinary Russian citizens but was a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Following a suggestion from Provost Jean Jones, it was also agreed that the libraries service would consider removing the Leningrad Album from public display in Airdrie Library for safekeeping.